Lessons learned from an EVSE Installer

Sunday, January 23, 2011 2 comments
So far, I've estimated over 25 sites for commercial EVSE installations and we've got our first installation under our belt.  The units we are siting are mostly the Chargepoint America Coulomb CT2100 units (which are very well designed), so that makes the units free to the right type of customer...they just pay the installation costs.

Here are some of the things I've learned so far...

  • Parking lots weren't designed with spare power available.  Therefore, most installations require power distribution work to get ample power out to the parking lot.  This can be expensive if the job requires things like boring under pavement or step down transformers are involved.  Because every property is different, it's very hard to make assumptions on how much a "typical" installation is.
  • You have to balance the "best" parking space with a "cheap installation" parking space.  The cheapest parking space install is usually the shortest distance to power.  The best parking space is usually up front were it can be easily seen, has good security, and can be easily expanded on.  Deciding on the right parking area is a skill, requiring you to walk the property manager through the options.
  • Plan big, start small.  If you buy into the idea that EVs will become the norm in 10 years...and therefore drivers will rely on public charging on a regular basis...then you should be the type that plans for expansion of your EV Chargers as EVs get popular.  For a few of our customers, this means installing a 200 Amp service/panel near the parking area with larger conduit to support additional panels in the future.  A 200 Amp service will easily drive four Level II (220V) EV Chargers and an additional circuit for a Level I (120V) charger too.
  • Thanks Obama, Coulomb, NovaCharge, and Get Ready Central Florida.  The ARRA funding that powered the Chargepoint America program in Orlando will GREATLY speed adoption of EVs in Central Florida.  Why?  The economy has sucked the slack out of all budgets...and installing EVSE is a luxury for most companies.  Without these free units, trying to get people to pay for EV Chargers (and installation) before the cars arrive would be super tough...and without public chargers available, people will adopt EVs much slower.

I gotta say that it's very exciting to work in this field...and it's very challenging (read: not easy).  We (car companies, EVSE vendors, installers) are basically starting up a new business during the worst recession since the Great Depression and asking cash-strapped businesses to pay for expensive things that will be used in the near future...that's hard!  The good part is that this "slow" period allows us to concentrate on how to do this job right - as there is nothing worse than poor quality.

Three opportunities to drive New EVs in Florida in January/February

Saturday, January 22, 2011 0 comments
If you're in Florida in the very near future, you have several opportunities to drive a variety of new Electric Vehicles.  While there are several left brained reasons for going electric, once you drive one, your right hemisphere will be convinced too...since they're fun to drive.

Get out there and drive one!

Nissan Leaf - Drive Electric Tour
These are just the Florida locations of their Nationwide Tour.  Sign up at: www.driveNissanLEAF.com to ensure you get a place in the driver's seat.

  • Jacksonville
    • Where: The Avenues, 10300 Southside Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32256
    • When: Saturday, January 22: 7am – 5pm, Sunday, January 23: 8am – 4pm
  • Miami
    • Where: Sawgrass Mills, 12801 West Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise, FL 33062
    • When: Friday, January 28: 7am – 5pm, Saturday, January 29: 7am – 5pm, Sunday, January 30: 8am – 4pm
  • Orlando
    • Where: University of Central Florida, Bldg 50 N. Gemini Blvd, Orlando, FL 32816
    • When: Fri: February 4: 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sat: February 5: 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sun: February 6: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM 
  •  Tampa
    • Where: International Plaza and Bay Street, 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607
    • When: Friday, February 11: 7am – 5pm, Saturday, February 12: 7am – 5pm, Sunday, February 13: 8am – 4pm

Chevy Volt - Main Street in Motion
With more than 70 vehicles in the same location, including 25 competitive makes, Main Street in Motion
delivers an opportunity you won't find anywhere else — a no-pressure environment to compare Chevrolet,
Buick, GMC, Acura, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Lexus, Toyota and other vehicles side by side!  6-12 Chevy Volts should be there, so the wait to drive should be short.

These are just the Florida locations of this Nationwide Tour.  Drive here for more information: http://www.mainstreetinmotion.com/

  • Miami
    • Where: Sun Life Stadium, 2269 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami Gardens, FL 33056
    • When: January 28 – January 30, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Orlando
    • Where: Epcot, 1242 Avenue of the Stars, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
    • When: February 11 – February 13, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Electric Vehicle Showcase - Progress Energy and Buffalo Wild Wings
There may be several EVs at this local event at the new Kissimmee location of Buffalo Wild Wings - as they are planning to have a Chevy Volt, Ford Escape PHEV, Nissan LEAF, Toyota Prius PHEV, Wheego LiFe, and Zero Motorcycles at the event.

BTW: The owner of the local Buffalo Wild Wings franchise (Andy Gross - Sunshine Restaurants) built their new locations with prewires for EV Charging stations...starting back in 2008!  That's progressive!

  • Where: Buffalo Wild Wings Formosa Gardens, 3099 Formosa Gardens Blvd., Kissimmee, FL 34747
  • When: February 3, 2011, 10:30am
  • RSVP: alan@byrdconnections.com